Baseball

Perhaps it all started with David Eckstein, who wasn’t even really the Cardinals go-hard that always seemed to play above his head but infatuated Cardinals Nation anyway (and they’re always white. So, so white). Eckstein came from somewhere else, of course. But there’s always one Cardinal who you just know is going to annoy the piss out of you for a decade because they’re just so…Cardinal.

Oh there have been failed attempts. Skip Schumaker. Brendan Ryan was actually cloned from Eckstein but never really worked out. Colby Rasmus was going to be the outfield version until he bitched his way out of town. They even imported Ryan Theriot to be that guy. There was a time when it was feared Daniel Descalso would be that (and he ended up annoying the piss out of us anyway). Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty or Peter Bourjos definitely had chances which they never really took. So we guess it’s been a while since the Cards have had that squeaky clean, try-harder-than-you piss-ant that their fans hold up as all that’s good and right about baseball and why they’re just better than you because they recognize it and you don’t. Usually it’s right alongside a minority actually doing the work, but we’ll leave that this time. Sadly, this year it’s worked.

We give you Tommy Edman.

It’s always a bad sign when they have a y at the end of their name, just to more greatly portray their down-home-ness. Go by Tom, you’re a fucking adult, dude. Or supposed to be.

Anyway, Edman came up in July and all he’s done is hit, field, and run exceptionally. He’s been worth nearly three WAR in barely half of a season, and at 24 he’s going to be the rash in our ass for a long while it seems.

Is he a product of the Titleist baseballs? Yeah, a bit. Edman had never slugged much over .400 at any level in the minors until getting to AAA this year, where of course they’re setting all kinds of records for homers and power. Suddenly he was slugging .513 in Memphis when he’d never managed over .403 before. That’s continued in the Majors, where he’s got 11 homers in 89 games after hitting seven all of last year in AA and AAA.

Yeah, Edman hits the ball pretty hard, with a near 25% line-drive rate and a 40+% hard-contact rate. Whatever. This shouldn’t be happening and fuck him.

Still, the dude knocked Matt Carpenter out of the starting lineup, and Carpenter had been the Cardinals’ most consistent hitter for years, doing whatever they needed. That’s no small feat. And we can’t take Edman’s fielding and speed away from him, and they’re not going to go anywhere even if the baseball returns to the land of normal physics soon. Because of that speed, Edman is always going to run a high BABIP as he beats out infield singles more than most. Because of course this guy for the Cardinals has to beat out infield singles. It’s like a goddamn law.

If they aren’t already, the stands of Busch are going to be littered with Edman jerseys soon. There will be shots and shots of home-schooled children (if they even get that) in Edman shirseys while their parents tell them about how Edman plays the game the right way as they wait for his autograph. You can see it now in your head. You know it to be true. He’s going to get some sort of game-winning hit in the playoffs too, probably off his knuckles that has no business landing in the outfield unscathed as you go reach for your revolver. It’s going to happen, accept it now.

With Edman, DeJohn, Wong, and Goldschmidt, the Cards infield seems cemented for a long while now. You know the targets, you know the opposition, so you might as well plan for the “Edman-is-better-than-Baez” debates now. They’re coming, you can’t stop them. What it will mean is that Edman isn’t nearly as fun as Baez, and that’s why they’ll say he’s better. Better fundamentals. Respects the game more. Doesn’t need attention. Just wants to win. You know what they’ll really be saying.

You can script it out from here.

Everything Else

For the final time this year, we pick up our torch, arm ourselves, and head into the depths where Anthrax Jones lives. 

Look, ain’t no one complaining about 87 points. But your large adult son Mikko Rantanen‘s pace did drop off in February and March from the ridiculous pace he was on. Anything to be read from that or just flattening out of luck a bit?

On a team as deep as a puddle in the Sahara Desert, I’m not sure it wasn’t just a matter of time before other teams threw their entire checking efforts at MacRanteskog. The Avs have ten players with at least 10 goals apiece, so the “LACK OF DEPTH, HUH” crowd has an argument, but that argument falls apart when you consider that five of the ten have either 10 or 11 goals, and none of Colin Wilson‘s 10 count anyway. It’s not the 1983 Islanders, kids. It also doesn’t help that Rantanen has spent 54 minutes in the box almost entirely due to careless stick fouls, including a punishing late-game high sticking penalty last Friday that cost the Avs at least one point to human sewage drain Corey Perry and the corpse of the Ducks.

*deep breath*

That said, Rantanen’s game is still maturing, and it’s very evident that he still hasn’t put it all together yet. When he does, you’re going to need to spend two weeks training in Siberia with “Hearts On Fire” playing on continuous loop in order to shut him down. We’re getting there.

On the other side of the coin, Phillip Grubauer is on a real heater in March. Is this enough for the Avs to feel comfortable letting Varlamov walk in the summer and giving the job to Grubs?

I think the plan all along was to let Varlamov go at the end of this season, whether Grubauer came around or not. I think Jared Bednar is playing this perfectly: Grubauer is the short-term future of the Colorado net, with a chance to become the long-term future, and he should be getting the majority of the carries down the stretch in what’s still really a “practice year” for this generation of Avs. Grubauer has shown he has the ability to carry a team for stretches in Washington and now Colorado, which is essentially the same playbook Varlamov followed. The potential difference for Grubauer will be whether or not Bednar is able to build a coherent system around him, and the jury remains out on that one.

We asked you about him last year, but it still feels like the Avs are tapping their foot and looking at their watch when it comes to Tyson Jost

By March of 2021, I could see myself looking at a stat line of 10 goals and 20 assists for Jost and be willing to admit yeah, this is just the player he is. I’m not there yet though, because every time I’m ready to accept that he’s probably not going to break out in any meaningful way, he shows me something good that lures me back in. The Avs sent him to the AHL over All Star break, and when he came back, he was a different player: more assertive, less tentative, and it made a visible difference in his overall game. My biggest concern with Jost isn’t his skill level or his hockey IQ, it’s the way he seems to struggle with the physical aspect of the game. At 5’11” 190, hes not the smallest player, but he seems vulnerable to guys who play him hard. He’s not shy about contact, but he more often than not finds himself on his ass when he engages. That’s not something that can be coached or taught, and maybe it’s something he can work on during summer training, but maybe it’s just not in his makeup.

Are they getting in? Does it really matter? What’s the way forward here?

It doesn’t really matter. If they make it, great! That’s more playoff experience for guys like Rantanen, Jost, Sam Girard, and Illinois legend JT Compher, guys who got a taste of it last season and seemed to improve as the Nashville series progressed. Plus, it would be our first chance to see Rockstar Makar in an Avs uniform, and it would be cool to see how he performs under an immediate spotlight.

If they don’t make it? Another potential high pick to add to Ottawa’s pick, which is absolutely going to turn into Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko because god hates Ottawa’s fans and loves dark comedy. I’ve kept a level head this season, whether it was the early hot streak or the mid-season slumpmother, because the target all along has been 2019-2020.

And if we’re still in this position at this time next season, your boy is gonna be having a cow.

 

Game #74 and #75 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built